« Two brief quotes, in brief. | Main | Oh, and Merry Christmas, while we're at it. »

Eric: Of course, we don't know how much collateral damage is done by a shaft of plasma ripping into the middle of a highly populated city, but let's not be morbid....

Schlock20051217

(From Schlock Mercenary. Click on the thumbnail for full sized Boom Today!)

Okay, so here's the thing. You occasionally see a piece of Story embedded in a comic which, though Story-oriented, brings the Funny so consistently that it manages to slip really horrible moments in where you aren't looking. This is despite a track record for the comic that shows the artist is more than capable of stark, almost apocalyptic moments.

Petey, the sometimes psychotic, sometimes cheerful AI presence from another galaxy that had worked with, employed and sometimes pulled the strings of Tagon's Toughs has, as part of saving the galaxy from ultimate destruction, joined a fleetmind with thousands of other AIs. This has created a superintelligence self-described as Godlike, and we've been seeing that Fleetmind begin to have impact on the universe at large. Not too long ago, we watched the Fleetmind act to save the planet Qlaviql from a Tohdfraug invasion. Last week, we saw Petey move on the Qlaviqlese themselves, accusing their leaders of leaving the defense of Qlaviql to chance without rebuilding their defenses despite the continued presence of enemies. He gave them ten minutes to mount a successful defense against a single warship.

The ten minutes is up, and the warship has fired -- on that specific building where those politicians lay. And now they're very, very dead in a rain of plasma.

Petey said that he and the aptly named Petard Brigade of Robots would "die alongside them," as it would be "amoral" to do otherwise, having invited this horror upon the populace. Only, that's not strictly speaking true, is it? Oh, the robot bodies of Petey and the Petard Brigade died, but their thoughts and minds, merged in with the Fleetmind, will continue on. The Tricameral Assembly of Qlaviql will not.

On the one hand, it's perhaps the most surgical of wars ever performed. The politicians who failed in their duty are the ones who have died (though not the only ones, of course. One must assume aides, support staff, janitors, cafeteria workers and the like were in the Assembly building as well.) The civilian population has not suffered. Only the politicians. This is the ultimate expression of power projection abroad -- the exercising of military might to affect change. In this case, the change has been to the entire leadership of a world. No doubt to one with a better understanding planetary defense needs, which is what Petey wanted in the first place.

On the other hand, this was an act of cold, premeditated murder. The justification is simple -- had they acted the way Petey and the Fleetmind thought they should act, they could have saved themselves. Instead, in Petey's own words, they chose to feed their populace and rebuild their domestic infrastructure instead of their defenses (in order to be reelected). Petey has decided that the Qlaviqlese don't have the right to decide for themselves, wisely or unwisely, who should lead their world and what their priorities should be.

Howard Tayler has done something remarkable here. We know that Petey and the Fleetmind are doing things "of concern." Maybe to make the universe a better place. Maybe not. And we know that sometimes "you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs." At the same time, he's put Petey at the heart of that Omelet, both this time and when fighting the Tohdfraug invaders before. We get to meet the eggs. We get to feel some sympathy for them, even as we understand the reasons that Petey is doing what he's doing.

It would be simple to have Tagon's Toughs hear a report that the Tricameral Assembly of Qlaviql had been destroyed, and have Elf say "that's disturbing. Pass me more muscle relaxants." That distances the reader from what's happening. It's harder to see long necked aliens acting in a way that was questionable, but not downright evil, just before they get slaughtered on behalf of Petey's plan.

Oh, and to tell jokes during it all.

Howard Tayler gets a biscuit. A tasty, tasty biscuit.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at December 17, 2005 1:40 PM

Comments

Comment from: NthDegree256 posted at December 17, 2005 3:21 PM

I would like to take this moment to thank you, Eric, for leading me to three of my favorite webcomics of all time... Order of the Stick, Irregular Webcomic, and (behold! I am on topic!) Schlock Mercenary. And I want to thank Rich, David, and Howard for constantly and consistently keeping me thoroughly entertained.

Now, Howard, how about those chupaqueso recipes?

Comment from: Cornan posted at December 17, 2005 3:25 PM

I actually have been laughing out loud at the last few days of strips. Although Petey seems to be moving more and more to the "it's for your own good" camp of evil to me I'm still incredibly interested in where this story is going.

I can't wait to see how the whole Petey storyline gets resolved in the end. Howard Taylor continues to write one of the very best webcomics on the internet.

Comment from: Cornan posted at December 17, 2005 3:26 PM

And even though I've been reading the strip since it numbered in the tens of strips I still always spell the man's name wrong. Sorry Mr. Tayler.

Comment from: Dire posted at December 17, 2005 3:28 PM

Well, technicaly that Petey is an organic being and not a robot. When we see Petey he is either a hologram projected from a floating node or is one of the physical beings that he creates to circumvent the whole aspect of his programing that requires him to obey any order from the species that created him. And we see that one standing on a floating platform, not floating a foot away from a small sphere.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 17, 2005 3:43 PM

Yes, but his thoughts -- his continuity of being -- remains within the Fleetmind. So he has not really died.

Comment from: Copper Hamster posted at December 17, 2005 4:20 PM

The problem of course is that this won't really change anything in the long run. Yes, the next batch of grand, high, and not-so-high Poobah's will be elected and probably deal with some basic planetary defenses, because that will be the issue of the moment, a small frigate towing a megaweapon having just annihilated their capital building.

However, while great unbreachable defenses will likely be promised within a few years, approaching the next election cycle, the demands for this protection will quickly wane, a basic structure being in place, and the politicos will go back to pandering to the basic needs of their people (feeding them, in effect) and the special interests (there are always special interests) and thus the levy system^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Horbital defense system will be a pale shadow of what will be needed to truely defend the city^H^H^H^Hplanet from a massive storm^H^H^H^H^Hattack.
Now if he comes back and does this every 4 years for the next 20 he might accomplish something...
Who knows... AI's can thing long term...

CH

Comment from: NthDegree256 posted at December 17, 2005 4:21 PM

And in essence, his organic avatars are robots. They're manufactured, programmed, and connected to his core mind - the only difference is that the materials and design are based on living creatures.

It's a lot like the "robots" on Battlestar Galactica, actually.

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at December 17, 2005 4:47 PM

What makes this even creepier is that the decisions made by the Qlaviqlese were not necessarily bad ones, until the terraport wars. And even then, they were debatable. IIRC, the Gatekeepers would've stopped the kind of aggression they were facing. And the consequences of embarking on a military-heavy domestic policy without the necessary infrastructure to back it up are, generally, not pretty.

But because Petey thought they were wrong, he blew up who-knows-how-many people. Rather than debate, or attempt to reason or demonstrate their folly in a less fatal manner, he's engaged in wholesale slaughter.

Looks like Kevyn was right.

It seems to me that this is sort of an explanation for why AIs haven't succeeded at the sort of thing the Fleetmind's trying before. Their priorities are fundamentally different from beings that can't copy and instantiate themselves at will, and who need more than the energy output of a few small solar panels to survive.

Comment from: Canuck-Errant posted at December 17, 2005 4:58 PM

Copper Hamster:
Geez, couldn't you just ^W instead?

Comment from: larksilver posted at December 17, 2005 5:04 PM

The idea of some artificial intelligence (or anybody, for that matter) controlling my life "for my own good" gives me the willies.

But dang, it sure is funny to watch Petey do it. Hooray for Schlock and Howard!

Comment from: Adrean posted at December 17, 2005 5:26 PM

I assume that Asimov's three laws of robotics don't apply in the Schlockverse?

Comment from: W. I. Shane M. posted at December 17, 2005 5:27 PM

Petey has not shown himself to be wantonly cruel or foolish, so I get the feeling that he's going to take control of this planet himself. Wiping out the crooked politicians on any one planet would be rather random- and an A.I. is not a random actor.

Also, I think what Petey meant was that he'd experience death alongside them, which his manifestation there did. He died just the same as them, what happened afterward in their case we don't know but in his. . .

Comment from: Grumblin posted at December 17, 2005 5:57 PM

Adrean, Asimov circumvented his own laws... With exactly the same reasoning Petey seems to use here.

The good of the many outweighs etc.. Wich is in itself a big lie..

Petey could well be the most ...complex... Bad Guy ever invented. Which makes it all the more interesting to see where things go.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at December 17, 2005 6:19 PM

A Bad Guy, or an absolute and omnipotent utilitarian? Is there a difference? Discuss. 2-3 paragraphs minimum. 10 points. Personally, I'm not sure if Petey has ever shown self-interest, but then again things have changed.

And I believe the 8-bit Theater variation of the "can't break a few eggs" is more appropriate here.

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 17, 2005 6:30 PM

The ultimate result of this should be to make Qlaviql more self-sufficient and, if there's any kind of news travel at all, serve notice to the rest of the universe that they can't get away with complacency any more. Which is a good thing; planets like Qlaviql are absurdly easy victims in the current Schlockiverse. They don't even have a teraport denial system, for Frith's sake! (Thanks, Paul.) Petey gave 'em ten minutes. An invader, allowed to choose his targets with teraports, could probably subdue the entire planet in that time. Even the basic, look-we're-doing-something system Copper Hammer referred to earlier would give the planet at least enough time to let somebody else know they were under attack.

So, I think Fleetmind's goal is probably to create a universe where Fleetmind is no longer necessary. The Fleetmind's resources aren't infinite. They can't sustain policing the entire universe; the Gatekeepers could only pull it off by restricting the means of travel. So Qlaviql becomes a regrettable example for everybody else.

As for the death count, I think it's possible only Petey, the robots, and the Assembly died. The assembly meets in what looks like a really humongous amphitheater. Petey gave the Qlaviql ten minutes to respond. The workers in the theater, if there were any (because it doesn't look like a permanent working building to me), could have had time to flee- I doubt Petey is quite mad enough to kill the employees for their bosses' sins. Lastly, if the Fleetmind can in fact be described as infinite in any aspect, it'd be intelligence; I believe Petey could calculate the strike such that it wouldn't have a significant effect beyond the (really big) theater. Which reduces the 'innocent' death count to..those members of the legislature that voted for rebuilding defenses, but were overruled. Sucks to be them, I guess.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 17, 2005 6:35 PM

Wait, so we're discussing the morality of a bad act done for good intentions...

(People in black masks arrive in a dark van, tranquilize 32, and tie him up in a warehouse just outside of Camden, New Jersey.)

Mph! Mph mph mph! (Translation - hey, at least Tayler finally got a long-deserved biscuit.)

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 17, 2005 6:41 PM

Addenda: Now, what I'd personally like to see capping off this bit is Petey or other Fleetmind representative doing the same thing to the Tohdfraug, but saying "Knock it off with the military. Half your population is starving and the other half is your army."

Comment from: Howard Tayler posted at December 17, 2005 7:07 PM

It's really difficult for me to comment on ANY thread in which people are discussing Petey, because his character arc has not fully played out, and I Know What Happens Next. For me to attempt to shed any further light on what's going on here would spoil the upcoming strips in which the CHARACTERS shed further light on what's going on here.

I will say, however, that I'm pleased to see that I've succeeded in one of my goals with this story: to further polarize my readers' opinions about Petey. I wanted people to think, to worry, and (for the biscuit's sake) to laugh in the process.

Now... I need to find a place to display this biscuit. I can't EAT it until I've shed another 10 pounds or so.

Comment from: trpeal posted at December 17, 2005 7:38 PM

I've been reading recent Schlock Mercenary strips and getting more and more irritated with Petey. But then, I remembered something: He's batshit insane. I'm not really supposed to like him, any more.

By Petey's own admission, the Fleetmind is nearly godlike in terms of conciousness, and it's assembly has given it near-omnipotent power. I think what happened to the Qlaviql Assembly will scare the bejeezus out of every governing body in the galaxy. And it should. But I think they'll come to a very different conclusion than what Tyck proposes:

So, I think Fleetmind's goal is probably to create a universe where Fleetmind is no longer necessary. The Fleetmind's resources aren't infinite. They can't sustain policing the entire universe; the Gatekeepers could only pull it off by restricting the means of travel. So Qlaviql becomes a regrettable example for everybody else.

This may be true, but to any politician out there, what this says to them is that they have to stop the Fleetmind, before something like this happens to them. Petey just obliterated a planetary assembly, not -- as Egarwaen said -- for doing bad things, but for not doing the things he thought they should have been doing. He's not concerned with concepts like "the individual", or "debate", or "morality". He's got the answers, and if you don't like them, tough cookies, because he's going to do what he wants to do anyway. And right now, there's not a damned thing that anyone can do to stop him.

I won't attempt to out-think Howard; he's made it obvious that he's way too many steps ahead of me for that to come out in my favor. But at this time, to me, it seems that Petey's pursuing one of two strategies: the first is that he's working to set the Fleetmind up as the de facto controlling power in the galaxy. The second is that he's working to give the various sophont races across the galaxy something to definitely unite against -- the Fleetmind -- so that they can figure out a way to turn it off.

And both of these are so obvious that I'm sure the real answer is something completely different and unique. Like I said, I'm no match for Mr. Tayler in thinking this stuff up.

Comment from: LNick posted at December 17, 2005 7:45 PM

Petey did do the same thing with the Tohdfraug. In effect he press-ganged them into the advance force of his invasion fleet. You know the one that is taking on the dark matter entities in their home galaxy.

Petey did this because the Tohdfraug had shown themselves to be irresponsible bullies, and Petey (or the Fleetmind really) decided this would be a better use of their time. And their children's time, and their children's time, ad infinitum.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at December 17, 2005 7:59 PM

Hmm... is anyone else seeing a resemblance to Leto II, God Emperor of Dune? Although Petey is enjoying this much more than Leto did.

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 17, 2005 8:35 PM

This may be true, but to any politician out there, what this says to them is that they have to stop the Fleetmind, before something like this happens to them. Petey just obliterated a planetary assembly, not -- as Egarwaen said -- for doing bad things, but for not doing the things he thought they should have been doing. He's not concerned with concepts like "the individual", or "debate", or "morality". He's got the answers, and if you don't like them, tough cookies, because he's going to do what he wants to do anyway. And right now, there's not a damned thing that anyone can do to stop him.

He didn't destroy them only for not doing the things he thought they should have been doing; he destroyed them for not doing what their own supreme law said they should have been doing. The punishment may be disproportionate to the crime, but the argument is correct; if the Assembly had been doing their jobs as described instead of pandering for re-election (why do I suspect Qlaviql is also going to acquire term limits along with its crew of defense-minded..uh..assemblors?), then Petey would not have been able to act as he did.

Petey did do the same thing with the Tohdfraug. In effect he press-ganged them into the advance force of his invasion fleet. You know the one that is taking on the dark matter entities in their home galaxy
..right. Chalk one up for bad memory.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 17, 2005 8:57 PM

He didn't destroy them only for not doing the things he thought they should have been doing; he destroyed them for not doing what their own supreme law said they should have been doing.

But in so doing he took away the Qlaviqlese's right to decide for themselves what was or wasn't done properly.

Imagine if you will, President Bush giving the State of the Union. Imagine Petey appearing there, robots seizing the doors of the capital building. Keeping everyone inside. Imagine him saying... well, anything about what the government may or may not have done in the name of the Constitution. And then imagine him firing a missile that destroyed the Capital building and killed everyone inside.

And, if you're a Bush hater, imagine it was President Clinton. Or Reagan. Or Kennedy.

It doesn't matter. If that happened next January, I wouldn't be saying "well, they had failed the highest law of our land, so I'm just as glad. Now we can do things right." I would be setting aside liberal ways and marching out demanding sentient koala bear heads on pikes.

Comment from: the_iron_troll posted at December 17, 2005 9:11 PM

Petey is quite well set-up to be the most interesting 'Bad Guy'... like, ever.

I assume nearly everyone got around to seeing Serenity by now? He's sorta reminding me of the Operative from there, only of course with vastly more power/knowledge. To quote a rather amusing little site, "This is a good death. We're building a better world. And I'm a total fucking psychopath."

And yet, what I find most interesting of all is that it is possible that Petey could have some reasonable justification for this. He is at the head of an ultra-super-mega genius. Normal ethics do not always apply.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 17, 2005 9:23 PM

Ah, but what if the government controlled the media, and the Qlaviqlese government is actively making sure the populace never finds out about their grand failures? In that case, wouldn't the government be effectively inoculated from answering to their constituents?

Though if someone came by and obliterated American politicians for failing their nation's supreme law of the land, we'd be plowing through politicians faster than Scholck at an Ovalqwik factory.

Comment from: miyaa posted at December 17, 2005 9:27 PM

You know, if this had happened at, say, at an International Lawyers/Barristers Convention, we'd say this is a good start.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 17, 2005 9:29 PM

Hey, some of my best friends are lawyers!

... oh, heck, I'd still say it.

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 17, 2005 9:50 PM

Eric: I agree. The Assembly fully deserved to be removed from power en masse; they didn't deserve death. After your quoted line, my next statement was "The punishment may be disproportionate to the crime.." I don't think Petey necessarily did the right thing; I was intending to point out that it wasn't an arbitrary action. The Qlaviql Assembly did indeed fail their duty to Qlaviql, and should have been removed from power. So now we're waiting for the next few weeks of Schlock to see why Petey chose that way to correct the problem and what effect it has on everybody else.

You know, if this had happened at, say, at an International Lawyers/Barristers Convention, we'd say this is a good start.
Catch the reference to irradiating a tumor in today's comic? It's rather more complimentary to the tumor than the politicians.

Comment from: Moe Lane posted at December 17, 2005 11:20 PM

...and in today's episode we see what may be the other side of the coin. The consequences of this action will probably clarify a good deal of the Matter of Petey.

Moe

Comment from: LurkerWithout posted at December 17, 2005 11:38 PM

Friend sent me this link just now and it made think of this discussion...

http://saintscongress.ytmnd.com/

*shrugs*

Comment from: Dan Severn posted at December 17, 2005 11:46 PM

Oy. Opinions are certainly polarized. I hate Petey for sure now.

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 17, 2005 11:49 PM

Of course, my most pressing desire now is to have Howard explain what a 'muft' is and how they're important in Qlaviqlese culture. Which probably won't ever happen..Damn you, Richards Tayler! (If you haven't looked at the Saturday comic yet, the word is in the footnote for the strip.)

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 17, 2005 11:50 PM

Cursed lack of edit ability. Sunday comic.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 17, 2005 11:58 PM

My personal suspicion is that it's a third gender for the species, just as vital for reproduction as the first two. That's just a guess based on the fact that a child not born a male or female ends up as one. It could be an intersex child for all I know.

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 18, 2005 12:05 AM

Ok..I guess I should say I want to know the specifics of Qlaviqlese reproductive biology. How does it work having three sexes? Why is a year of mufting required? Why is mufting even a verb? Or is that a ceremonial royal thing only? That kinda stuff.

Comment from: Joshua posted at December 18, 2005 12:10 AM

Me, I think Petey has a point. He didn't just pick a system, sail in, and say "Hey, I don't think you're paying enough attention to your defense, time for you to die." He's there because within the past--what, week (whatever period last Nogsday fell within) the enemies that the Assembly had just been boasting of beating back had launched an attack which but for Petey's intervention would have killed 15 billion Qlaviqlese--which, since that's all the Qlaviqlese there are on the planet, presumably includes the Assembly. And the Assembly didn't even know it had happened.
The Qlaviqlese got to set their own priorities, and if it wasn't for Petey's megalomanical refusal to allow self-determination it would have resulted in the death of all of them. If I were an inhabitant of Qlaviql, I'm not sure I'd be so quick to demand sentient Koala-bear heads on pikes.

Comment from: Howard Tayler posted at December 18, 2005 12:23 AM

re: Muft, mufting, mufter, and muftale...

last Sunday's comic had a footnote.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 18, 2005 12:27 AM

I am now singing "muftales" to the old Ducktales theme.

I blame you for this, Mister Tayler.

(Good strip today, by the way. Very Heinleinic.)

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 18, 2005 12:27 AM

0_o How did I miss that one? Thanks for the link. Damning retracted.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 18, 2005 12:29 AM

Actually, this leads me to wonder - if the gender expression is partly due to hormones present during mufting, would it be possible for a multiple birth to contain muftales mixed with males and females? Presumably, the same hormone levels are present for all embryos, which would mean either none get mufted or all get mufted.

I'm just wondering, given the footnote to today's comic.

Comment from: Howard Tayler posted at December 18, 2005 1:26 AM

re: multi-gender muftings...

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: I'd need to find a Qlaviqlese biologist to explain the exact mechanisms of mufting, and right now the roster of Voices In My Head lacks one of those. I can't even tell you if the gender determination made during muft is conscious or not.

Medium-length answer: clearly it's not important to the story, or I'd have a better answer (and I'd make you wait for it to air in a strip.)

Comment from: Howard Tayler posted at December 18, 2005 1:27 AM

(p.s. Note to self... must not make any effort to remember the melody to "Duck Tales," lest I become infected...)

Comment from: Bookworm posted at December 18, 2005 1:28 AM

I'd expect that you have three genders.

The sire (male)
The egg layer/birther (female)
The gestator (muft)

I'd say it would be analagous to the opossum or kangaroo, where the 'infant' moves from the womb to a pouch, where it is then gestated until relative maturity.

Comment from: Wistful Dreamer posted at December 18, 2005 2:06 AM

"The Assembly fully deserved to be removed from power en masse; they didn't deserve death."

No, they didn't deserve to be removed at all. We get the government we deserve. It doesn't seem like it in the strip, but a few more logical iterations make it obvious. Petey is saying, "if you don't pass my arbitrarilly powerful challenge (given that I've destroyed a galaxy wide civilization, I'm pretty much all powerful), you are unfit to lead." Frankly, there is no amount of defense they could have gone to to fight off Petey. Petey is a utilitarian monstrousity much like Colossus in "The Forbin Project". This is most likely Tayler's intent, as he seems te be setting Petey up as the next bad guy in the series.

Comment from: gwalla posted at December 18, 2005 4:31 AM

trpeal: So your saying that Petey is borrowing tactics from...well crap. I just realized I can't say who, or even what it's from, because it'd be a huge spoiler for those who haven't read it (and many haven't, although it's pretty well known in certain circles), and I don't want to ruin the surprise because everyone should read it. Hint: it was published by DC.

Comment from: John Lynch posted at December 18, 2005 8:07 AM

Imagine if you will, President Bush giving the State of the Union. Imagine Petey appearing there, robots seizing the doors of the capital building. Keeping everyone inside. Imagine him saying... well, anything about what the government may or may not have done in the name of the Constitution. And then imagine him firing a missile that destroyed the Capital building and killed everyone inside.

Something no-one's said though, is the fact Petey saved the planet from being destroyed/enslaved. Some simple additions to your scenario would be needed for a truly proper comparison. Imagine if Earth was 5 minutes from being destroyed. We hadn't noticed, had no way to notice, had no defences. Petey came along and quietly saved Earth, which because of our lack of caution, we don't even notice that. Then when Bush is giving the state of the union, Petey appears and says "G'day mates" (not that Petey has an Australian accent despite resembling a koala) "if it was up to this politician you woulda all been killed by now. As way of demonstration, I'm going to send another warship at you of comparable power, ye've got 10 minutes. If you don't stop it, your politicians will die, which'll be a hell of a lot better then what would have happened if not for me. If your politicians prove me wrong, sorry for troublin' ya. I was just trying ta help ya and save ye from slavery/extinction. Oh, and here's some of your own laws to support my actions."

Now I'm not saying what Petey's doing is right. I don't think it is. But I can understand his reasoning and motives. He's trying to do what's best, but he's slightly misguided.

It's a lot like the Eugenics from Deep Space Nine (Star Trek for those who don't know, feel free to ignore the rest of my post ;)). In the war against the shape-shifters, the doctor along with the other eugenics calculated that it would be impossible for the Federation to win the war. So he devised a surrender that would save lives, and allow for Federation rule once more in the shortest amount of time possible. He was eventually proved wrong. But with the smartest minds at his disposal, he thought he was right.

That's Peteys mistake. He thinks he's infallible (not omnipotent, just not wrong, and he can quote you the probability of him being wrong as well). He'll be proven wrong. Perhaps not because it's the most realistic course of actions. But because it's the best literary (or at least the most common literary) course of action.

Comment from: trpeal posted at December 18, 2005 10:05 AM

@ gwalla: I think so. Are you referring to the one that was painted, and set in the near future?

@ John Lynch: The Qlaviqlese have gotten enslaved anyway. Now they're just in thrall to Petey, instead of to the Tohdfraug. And the Qlaviqlese may cobble together some sort of new legislature and "choose" to follow Petey's "suggestions", but they know the truth. They don't really have any choice at all; Petey's made that pretty clear.

Comment from: Joshua posted at December 18, 2005 10:59 AM

trpeal, you've got the stakes wrong. The Tohdfraug intended to exterminate the Qlaviqlese; they had launched the attack that would have done so. There's a case to be made for give me liberty or give me death, but let's at least be clear that that's what's at issue, not a choice of masters.

Comment from: Doug posted at December 18, 2005 11:16 AM

"The universe can be a big, terrible thing that will bite your head off if you're not careful. Be careful and don't get complacent."

To tell the truth, it reads to me that the Qlaviql race just got handed back its decision making capabillties from a government that was busily patting itself on the back for failing to fufill one of its most basic - and important - duties, along with a not-so subtle reminder that they'd be wise to start taking care of business. A government isn't the people, no matter how loudly they insist. If you're going to have one of the things, make sure you fill it with people that are going to at least give lip service to fufilling their avowed purpose and not devote their efforts to simply keeping the job.

Call it tough love on Petey's part. If you plug the numbers in, you've got several thousands of dead politicians compared to the balance of the many billions of living people. You've also got an entire race not being subjected to slavery at best, with genocide a more than likely outcome. You've also got that same race being given a wake-up call and reminded that many 'C' charged projectiles can not only ruin your day but get your entire species listed in the "Now Extinct" column, so you'd better choose the people you're putting in charge of seeing that doesn't happen a lot more carefully.

There's also the added delight of seeing a lot of smug professional politicians de-smugged and then vaporized, but that's a selfish pleasure.

Of course, that's me second-guessing Mr. Tayler- a hazardous task at best. I've often seen what was coming next in his tales, nodding and wondering which time-honored plot device he'd choose, when the bloody thing would blindside me from a totally unexpected direction.

That's part of why I keep coming back for more.

Comment from: J Ryan Beattie posted at December 18, 2005 1:23 PM

I think you're all wrong. None of this is about whether the legislature was right or not. I don't think Petey cares all that much about whether one species makes war against another. This is small potatoes in the galactic scale.

No, this is about Petey's main concern. This is about the Dark Matter Entities. He's at war. So far as he's concerned, the entire galaxy is as war. He needs people going out there and fighting that war. To him, this is about the survival of the entire galaxy. Right now, he's found what he sees as justification to draft another species into the war. I find it very unlikely that he really cares if the assembly was actually in the wrong. By removing them, he has justification to get them on a war footing and get them involved in his war.

Comment from: Zernik posted at December 18, 2005 3:30 PM

Apparently, everyone has reservations about Petey's actions. But is it possible that he's entirely right? These politicians are a group who deliberately misled their people in order to gain power, while risking those people's lives. (Whether that populace WANTED to be misled is a whole other argument). It's not so much an attitude of "let's kill everyone so I can take control". It's more of "let's kill this gang of incompetents so I don't have to fix their mistakes ever again".

The way Petey sees it, he saved their lives, so now he has the right to inflict punishment for any and all mistakes by HIS standards. To Petey, he's in the middle of a war. And, from what I remember, in most militaries this kind of behavior would be treated as either Gross Incompetence or Gross Negligence in the face of the enemy, both of which are capital offences. It might be questionable to hold civilians to military standards of justice, but these are the civilians who control the military; they should be held more accountable, not less, for their mistakes.

Lastly, on a somewhat unrelated note, I think it's interesting how Tayler seems already to be introducing (in the following strip) the leaders that Petey will put in to replace the former government - the mentality of the ore-hauler commander seems like Petey's (or Tagon's) kind of guy.

Comment from: Devilot posted at December 18, 2005 4:43 PM

I agree totally with Zernik's last point in his last post. The ore hauler captain's actions--charging into likely death to (or so he assumes) save his people from annihilation or enslavement, and with a plan that will almost assuredly take down the threatening frigate and might even allow him to live through it--are exactly the opposite of what the assembly did--selfishly neglecting their duty to defend the people out of self-interest and nearly getting their entire species annihilated--and are likely the sort of actions Petey wants in whoever weill take over. The most likely reason to show the ore hauler captain is that him being hijacked by Petey and placed in charge is indeed exactly what will happen... but it's not certain. Schlock Mercenary has had unexpected events and remarkable plot twists before.

Comment from: Brandon E. posted at December 18, 2005 6:02 PM

Most people seem to view Petey as a future bad guy. I'm however leaning towards Petey, and the fleetmind, as Utilitarians who have only the best in mind for the universe. I don't tend to see a moral problem with a loss of life, if it improves social stability and thus saves more lives in the future. While most people who expect Petey to be a villian in the future are seeing his actions only in the short term, Petey, and possible future generations on this planet, will view the fleetminds actions as a good thing for the future of this planet.

What I want to know is what the significance of this planet is in the schlock universe. Why is the fleetminds focus here? I highly doubt this is the only planet in the galaxy who has negligent politicians.

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 18, 2005 6:22 PM

What I want to know is what the significance of this planet is in the schlock universe. Why is the fleetminds focus here? I highly doubt this is the only planet in the galaxy who has negligent politicians.

One part of the Fleetmind's focus is here. One of the things a gestalt intelligence such as the Fleetimind would be extremely good at (you know, as opposed to being merely very good) would be multitasking. The same scene could be being played out all over the universe; it could even be being done with multiple Petey avatars, although I'd prefer to think he'll still allow the other Fleetmind AI's to get some of the action.

Comment from: landley posted at December 18, 2005 11:34 PM

Petey may be "batshit insane" but he has his own moral code that he adheres to as intensely. (Even more now that he's started thinking of himself in godlike terms.)

Petey grabbed the toadfrogs for his own reasons. He wanted expendable cannon fodder to strand in Andromeda to fight the dark matter entities. By their own actions, the Toadfrog guys qualified themselves as cannon fodder, and Petey could send them into harms way with a clear conscience.

That said, Petey's act had ramifications (15 billion people _not_ dead on Qlavo because he stopped an invasion), and he may see wiping out the government of Qlavo as dealing with those ramifications. If Petey stops all interplanetary invasions for a period of 5 or 10 years by abducting the invasion forces to pit against Amdromeda, when he finally _stops_ doing so somebody could make like Alexander or Genghis Kahn and rip through the entire civilized galaxy in a matter of weeks. If he _doesn't_ take an interest, Bad Things happen. (Also, saving 15 billion people from slaughter does tend to earn one a bit of breathing room, morally speaking. He's playing god with the lives of people who would have already died if he _hadn't_ started meddling. That's tougher to condemn than wandering into an area he didn't already have a stake in.)

The Schlockiverse is undergoing a huge adjustment: five years earlier you could just guard a single transportation bottleneck and call yourselves secure (from an actual invasion fleet, anyway. Not unless they wanted to trickle through the gate over a period of months and mass on the far side of the system, which was a lot easier to notice). Now they just _had_ the terraport wars, called off by the common enemy in Andromeda. Maybe Petey's main interest is making sure people can protect themsleves from the andromedans?

Or it could just be "Hi! Your actions just got 15 billion people killed, except I stopped it. I'm kind a pissed about that. Have a bullet."

(Well he _was_ raised by mercenaries, in a matter of speaking. It's quite possible that on a strange psychological level, Tagon is a father figure to him, and Kevin and Schlock are family...)

Rob

Comment from: zandperl posted at December 18, 2005 11:36 PM

Petey, the sometimes psychotic, sometimes cheerful AI presence from another galaxy

Isn't he from the same Milky Way Galaxy as Earth and Tagon's Toughs? And unless I lost track, he's still in the Milky Way and not the Andromeda Galaxy, though I think he sent some victims there to help clean it of DMEs.

Comment from: J Ryan Beattie posted at December 19, 2005 12:16 AM

Again, I don't think ethics or morality enters into it, from Petey's point of view. He's not doing this so that the Qlaviqlese have a good government. He's doing this so that they'll have a government that will do what he wants them to do, which I'm fairly sure is to fit into his war machine against the Dark Matter Entities. From Petey's point of view, anything he does is justified, because he's saving the galaxy from the DME. He knows how to do it, and since he knows he's vastly more intelligent than any other being in the galaxy, he's not going to care if he's trampling on the rights of those citizens. He knows what's best, so they don't need to have a choice. At best, he'll give them the appearance of a choice. They'll have a choice for as long as they choose to do what he wants them to do.

His only stumbling block is that, powerful as he is, he's not entirely omnipotent. He doesn't have the manpower to force every group to cooperate with him. If he makes himself too obviously a danger, there will be mass resistance. While they might not be able to stop him, they could probably hinder him. To that end, he needs to have some appearance of moral superiority to strongarm them. In the case of the Tohdfraugs, they were aggressors, and so he could feel relatively free to simply pressgang them and strand them in the Andromeda Galaxy. No one's really going to cry out for them.

Forcing a relatively innocent group into doing his bidding, though? That takes finesse.

Comment from: gwalla posted at December 19, 2005 12:40 AM

trpeal: Nope, not painted. It was first published in the decade before the one you're thinking of (if I'm right about which one you're thinking of). It featured no pre-existing DC superheroes.

Comment from: Chronitis posted at December 19, 2005 12:44 AM

Regardless of whether his seizing control of government is justified, he's still a psycho. Had he NOT used fabber-bot guards to stop everyone from fleeing the building, he would have had the same effect with less dead people, and all of those politicians having to also deal with the public blow of fleeing the person challenging their right to power. Instead, Petey idly decided to KILL EVERYONE.

And let's not forget, their failure to defend themselves from him proves nothing. They're up against the Fleetmind. Petey used teraport tricks available to only him in smuggling in himself and the fabberbots, and got his plasma lance ten minutes away before he initiated anything. That isn't to say they weren't defenseless (though I find it hard to believe that they were completely so), it's safe to say that even had they been competent, they wouldn't have stood a chance.

Of course, that last part of my rant will be put to the test by the next few strips, and I'm really interested to see what plays out with the freighter.

Comment from: Zernik posted at December 19, 2005 1:10 AM

Actually (in response to Chronitis) their failure to defend themselves is Petey's whole point. From the beginning, he sets up the attack as something MUCH easier to stop than whatever the Toadfrogs sent at them - the ten minute time limit is what they would be up against in a real war. And this ship is, by Petey's definition, and by agreement of the narrator, easy to kill, even with its outsized armament. If they had been competent, Petey wouldn't have worked too hard to kill off the assembly anyway. Maybe it's just me, but my impression of Petey's personality is that he's ruthless and, if not always honest, then at least fair by his own perspective. In this, he's very much the "child" of Tagon's toughs (Taylor seems to like setting his characters against incompetent/unfit ruling classes and they deal with them somewhat like this).

And, in response to the accusations of unnecessary brutality, Petey needs to be certain. He is not trying to teach a moral lesson. He is trying to remove an incompetent elite from power completely and immediately, and killing is just his way of doing that. Messy, but Taylor writes a morally ambiguous comic. Letting them escape gives them a chance to keep their tradition of complacency alive, which the people of Qlaviql CANNOT afford.

Taylor hasn't set up Petey as an unconditional bad guy - he's manipulative and controlling, but he always turns out to be working for what he thinks is the good of the galaxy. It's possible that he's wrong, but to say that Petey disregards morality is unjustified; he simply looks at morals in a very calculating way, withing the benefits and costs, choosing a course of action, and then ruthlessly following it to its conclusion. He decided that the current governments of the Schlockverse are unsuited to the coming times of war, he decided that a program of preparing those governments for war was the best idea, and then he decided to go through with that program at all costs.

Also, if I'm going to get this into analyzing this one section of storyline, I want to do some predicting. I think that, even if they're helpless now, the Qlaviqlese (or whatever they're called) are going to be major players in whatever action the Fleetmind ends up carrying out.

***Takes deep breath*** Okay, I think that's all for now. ;)

Comment from: steveha posted at December 19, 2005 1:28 AM

Note well: Petey has staggeringly large resources available to him. He could have sent five dozen Battleplate-class ships to the planet. What did he send? A single light frigate. And, that single light frigate is currently under attack by a non-warship, and it's not even dodging!


This is not the moral equivalent of killing President Bush because the USA failed to save the Earth from alien attackers. It's the moral equivalent of sailing a small, lightly armored ship into US waters, and announcing that when it is on station it will fire a cruise missile at Congress. The US could send ships to intercept it; could send fighter planes to look it over; and could fire cruise missiles or even ballistic missiles at it. The US has those capabilities.


In the Schlock universe, space travel and space combat is not unusual. Solar systems need to be able to defend themselves, and a single light frigate is a rather low bar to clear.


Even the ore freighter crew expected that "Sky Command" would deal with this single frigate. They didn't know what a poor job their government was doing to protect them. If you just told them, they might not believe you.


The people on that planet will now believe, really believe, that Sky Command is not doing its job, and their old government wasn't doing its job. Maybe they will take out a bounty on little furry heads... but the will darn sure have at least a few capital ships in their system to defend it from now on. And I think it's clear that's what Petey was after.


And! Unexpected bonus--a civilian captain of an ore hauler is going to do the job that the government failed to do, making it abundantly clear how low the bar was. I wonder if Petey is going to "suggest" that they let the captain run things for a while? I'll bet he would make a few changes at Sky Command.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 19, 2005 1:38 AM

It's the moral equivalent of sailing a small, lightly armored ship into US waters, and announcing that when it is on station it will fire a cruise missile at Congress. The US could send ships to intercept it; could send fighter planes to look it over; and could fire cruise missiles or even ballistic missiles at it. The US has those capabilities.

The question is... is failing in those capabilities (on a ten minute scramble) truly a death penalty offense?

Yeah, if it happened, and it came out in the investigation, people would be as absolutely furious -- as mind bogglingly furious...

...well, as we actually were when the 9/11 commission report came out.

However, that wouldn't mean we would thank the person who murdered our government. Or felt he was right to do what he did. In fact, we would be demanding that the murderer who murdered our government be brought to justice at any cost.

I assume that the Union of the State message was broadcast. That means Petey is known to be behind it.

You're telling me Qlaviql isn't going to be at war, following this?

And you're telling me the abject futility of that war won't help galvanize the rest of galactic response?

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not knocking Howard Tayler at all. I think this storyline is going fantastically. I want to see what happens next.

But this was still a slaughter, and planets don't typically thank people who come in and slaughter their elected governments, regardless of the justification.

Comment from: J Ryan Beattie posted at December 19, 2005 3:24 AM

Actually, looking back on my comments, I was less than clear in what I meant. I don't mean to say that Petey doesn't have any moral grounding. Simply that I believe that he's motivated by protecting the Milky Way, not by spreading justice and well-being across the galaxy.

And don't be too certain that there will be a lot of backlash against Petey by the Qlavaqlese. Remember, he did save them from the Tohdfraug. Petey is good at manipulating people. It's possible that if he spins it right, he could get the majority of the Qlaviqlese thinking that his meddling is a good thing, especially if they realize how powerful he is. There have been a lot of people throughout history who preferred a bit of security to self-determination.

Generally, they're called peasants, plebians, or slaves. But hey, some people will help you put the chains on, and set the whip to each other.

Comment from: cthulhu-maccabi posted at December 19, 2005 4:32 AM

Well, admittedly "I saved all of you from certain death a couple days ago" is a better justification than most.

As far as real-world equivalents go, this would be more like someone announcing that they had just prevented a terrorist from setting off a 20 megaton nuclear device in the middle of New York City, and then proceeding to send an unarmed man carrying a box labled "plastic explosives" to kill the president by slowly walking up the White House lawn with it held above his head - and succeeding.

Comment from: Tevorcet posted at December 19, 2005 9:39 AM

I think at least part of it may come down to something that Petey more or less admitted--that he operates based on situational ethics (I don't remember exactly when that one was from, but I think it was somewhere after Petey's return). By this token, Petey cannot lay claim to being merciful or cruel, and thus all of his actions become all the more interesting--if resistance to Petey does spring up, his attackers would call him a merciless aggressor, and his defenders a benevolent protector, although both would be completely wrong. This is not unusual for normal wars, but relatively few commanders apply the same principle to their own troops. The difference between regarding men as cannon fodder and knowingly sending them to their deaths, while little, does exist. I also don't think that what we've just witnessed will be the last instance of Petey commiting genocide while being blasť about his own troops... I assume, of course, that all of this activity is not confined to one planet, as the Fleetmind may have the resources to launch a multifront campaign on all the poorly defended and all the overly aggressive planets in the galaxy.

Comment from: steveha posted at December 19, 2005 3:55 PM

You're telling me Qlaviql isn't going to be at war, following this?

Where did I ever say that? I said that the people of that planet will make darn sure they have some kind of effective defense force. I didn't say that they would thank Petey for it or be happy about it.

But I am specifically rejecting the idea that the government never had a chance against Petey. He didn't bring his vast resources to bear, he brought a single light frigate and some robot guards. A single capital ship, in a defensive position near the planet, would have been enough to stop the light frigate... and Petey wouldn't even have sent it, with no need to make that particular point.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 19, 2005 4:01 PM

But I am specifically rejecting the idea that the government never had a chance against Petey. He didn't bring his vast resources to bear, he brought a single light frigate and some robot guards.

I wasn't really responding to that, Steve. There's a certain amount of contention in the above discussion that Petey will be "suggesting" who will be in command next, for example. Or that the populace will be glad at what happened.

My point is, the populace is going to be terrified and outraged, not necessarily in that order, no matter what blame they ascribe to the (ex) government or military.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 19, 2005 4:01 PM

But I am specifically rejecting the idea that the government never had a chance against Petey. He didn't bring his vast resources to bear, he brought a single light frigate and some robot guards.

I wasn't really responding to that, Steve. There's a certain amount of contention in the above discussion that Petey will be "suggesting" who will be in command next, for example. Or that the populace will be glad at what happened.

My point is, the populace is going to be terrified and outraged, not necessarily in that order, no matter what blame they ascribe to the (ex) government or military.

Comment from: bartles69 posted at December 19, 2005 8:22 PM

I think that Petey sees his own justification in the same light that Jack Nicholson's infamous Col. Jessup saw his own in A Few Good Men.

Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.


J Ryan:
It's possible that if he spins it right, he could get the majority of the Qlaviqlese thinking that his meddling is a good thing, especially if they realize how powerful he is.

While Howard Tayler is officially not claiming any link to real-world events, a reader who was inclined to interpret parallels might note that a current global superpower, after clumsily removing the internally elected leader of a foreign government, has become less than beloved by its populace, despite its military and economic might. Attempts to spin have merely added fuel to the fire. Of course, reality isn't bound by fiction's need to make any sort of logical sense.

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 19, 2005 10:08 PM

a reader who was inclined to interpret parallels might note that a current global superpower, after clumsily removing the internally elected leader of a foreign government, has become less than beloved by its populace, despite its military and economic might. Attempts to spin have merely added fuel to the fire. Of course, reality isn't bound by fiction's need to make any sort of logical sense.

The parallel breaks down when you realize that the global superpower (..can we stop pretending we don't all know who we're talking about?) also inflicted a significant amount of damage to other parts of the country on the way to removing the other country's leadership, thus requiring global superpower to stick around for a bit in a bid to repair that damage before getting a new leadership in place in other country. Petey didn't have to do that; he torched, at worst, one city (at best, one building containing largely non-essential people and a little bit of the surrounding area). Qlaviql took Petey's hit in largely the same condition it was in before he showed up; they should be able to transition into a new government with a minimum of distraction from reconstruction efforts. And since Petey really offers no opponent to fight, a minimum of distraction due to militants. Really quite a good example of how to go about deploying military force to a desired end, assuming you have a precisely targetable space-weapon to use.

Comment from: J Ryan Beattie posted at December 19, 2005 11:54 PM

Keep in mind also that Petey is several orders of magnitude better at manipulating others than the administration being alluded to.

Comment from: Tacky_Hillbilly posted at December 20, 2005 7:33 AM

Alot of arguing on the side of Petey being evil is that he is taking away the freedom of action from these people. But Petey, if he truly respected freedom, would have let the Qlaviqlese die. True freedom means letting others accept the consequences of their actions as well as the right to choose the actions themselves. By doing so, Petey has protected them. And right now, all Petey is doing is protecting them again, this time from themselves.

Let's change up the situation. Let's say some new threat choose to attack the Qlaviqlese, and Petey hadn't done this. Instead of saving them, as he easily could have, he stands by and watches them pay the piper, and 15 Billion die. Does that make him any less of a monster?

Unless you desire Petey to become some kind of protector, shielding the Qlaviqlese from the Galaxies woes, these are you two choices. Either he lets them die, or he forces them to see the new reality, and make the changes it requires.

Petey's power is limitless. He could do anything he wanted. He could install a puppet government (He still might.) He could defend the them for all eternity.

Applying this to a galactic scale, Petey doesn't want to become the New Gatekeepers, controlling the galaxy in order to keep it safe. Petey is making a Galaxy that can take care of itself. Frankly, this is the only path that leads to freedom.

This isn't about saving lives. If that was all this was really about, Petey could put a big fleet of Warships in orbit. This is about making a world that can be truly free, making decisions and paying for those decisions, without leading to the total and utter destruction of the Species.

Freedom has another side to the coin. Responsibility. If the Qlaviqlese weren't ready for the second, they weren't ready for the first either.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 20, 2005 9:30 AM

Tyck, there's one problem with your analogy - destroying a large swath of the society's leaders is a huge and damaging blow. If you think of society like a living being, then what Petey has just done is effectively a lobotomy. Or a rapid and thorough trepanning. Sure, some might survive that just fine. And perhaps it is the best thing for the Qlaviqlese overall. However, it is still quite damaging and is just as likely to make things on the planet worse.

Also, it doesn't excuse Petey from performing said lobotomy, even if it was needed, without permission.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at December 20, 2005 9:50 AM

Petey is making a Galaxy that can take care of itself. Frankly, this is the only path that leads to freedom.

So your position/suspicion is, Petey/the Fleetmind is imposing on the Galaxy by force the principle of liberty.

Tricky. But can they do it?

The implication is that the Fleetmind believes in liberty not as an end in itself but because it's the most practical method of self-support. World history to date does indicate something of the sort, but that doesn't mean everyone chooses it when in a position to make the choice. If the Fleetmind's perspective is as I'm hypothesizing, shall it create a galaxy of democracies and republics and then just step aside once the war with Andromeda is over, maybe even disband itself? Or after the war, when some of the democracies and republics vote themselves dictators and monarchs, shall the Fleetmind step back in and say, "You morons, do you think there can be only one hostile other galaxy in the universe?" Stay tuned.

Comment from: steveha posted at December 20, 2005 6:56 PM

destroying a large swath of the society's leaders is a huge and damaging blow.

Well, it depends on just how useless those leaders really were. We can't tell for certain based on a few panels of dialog, but I'd say that leaders who left their planet completely defenseless might not be too big a loss to that society.

I really don't think the death of a few hundred leaders would be enough to "lobotomize" a whole society. They would have traditions, history, laws, etc. as well as former leaders now retired, leaders from lower levels of government, etc.

A shock? Sure. A shock that makes the people angry at Petey? Sure. A devastating shock from which they will never, ever recover? No.

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 20, 2005 8:49 PM

I really don't think the death of a few hundred leaders would be enough to "lobotomize" a whole society. They would have traditions, history, laws, etc. as well as former leaders now retired, leaders from lower levels of government, etc.

Several thousand- this is a planetary assembly. But that's nitpicking. I agree with Steveha. The people who were destroyed were the highest level of government..the people who don't, when you get down to it, actually run the world. You can skim off the uppermost layer of a bureaucracy and not significantly harm the rest of the system. All the people who are really responsible for seeing that Qlaviql keeps running are still in their positions. Even the ones who organize the elections..thus making it a lot easier to get a new planetary assembly in place.

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?